April Eastman was looking for a way to spend more time with her son.
“My son has been fencing for a couple of years. It always looked fun,” she said. “I thought it was something we could do together.”
The Bowling Green woman has been participating in the Bowling Green Fencing Academy.
The classes, taught by U.S. Fencing Coaches Association-certified fencing instructor Stephen Fisher, meet weekly at Bowling Green Parks and Recreation. The class, now approaching its fourth week, first met June 1 and lasts six weeks. The class is for people ages 12 and up and offers a nontraditional form of fitness.
“It’s been a lot of fun. Stephen Fisher is a knowledgeable, great coach,” Eastman said.
Fisher started fencing when he was 12 years old. He teaches members of the Western Kentucky University’s Fencing Club and offers private lessons. He was a champion in the U.S. Fencing Association tournament in 1999.
“It’s the national governing body of the sport,” he said.
Fencing is shown more realistically in competitions than in movies, Fisher said.
“It’s a far cry from swashbuckling in the movies,” he said.
“It’s one of the sports with the least injuries (because of the gear fencers have to wear),” he said. “You might have a torn muscle or light bruises.”
The sport requires people to make quick decisions, Fisher said.
“Fencing is like a physical game of chess,” he said. “It’s general fitness for the mind and body.”
“You have to have a plan of attack, anticipate what your opponent is doing and follow the rules,” she said.
She believes the physical aspects will come in time.
“Right now I think I find it mentally challenging,” she said. “I think it will become more physically challenging as I learn more. It keeps my son very active when he fences.”
The current class has eight participants who are learning very basic fencing moves. Fisher said it’s designed for people who have never fenced before.
“We learned the en garde position, the pieces of our foil and some parries,” said Eastman, describing the preparatory position for a match, the weapon and defense moves in fencing.
Fisher said he hopes the class becomes ongoing with another beginners class and, eventually, an intermediate class. He will also set up a booth and do demonstrations at the Second Saturday street fair downtown July 14.
“Hopefully we’ll have (another beginners class) in the last week of July,” he said. “Fencing is a lifelong sport. It’s challenging. Something is always different.”
Eastman said her son was “very excited” when she told him she was taking a fencing class. He hasn’t asked her for a match yet, though.
“I’m glad because I’m not ready for that. I don’t think the bout would last very long,” she said, laughing.
— For more information about fencing classes, call Fisher at 270-223-7544 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.